Monday, July 31, 2006

Jamaican Woman

Walking through her village deep in the back country of Jamaica, I asked if I could take her picture. She nodded, yes. With a mixture of contentment and sadness, she smiled. Life is hard in Jamaica. "No problem, mon" seems to be a mantra Jamaicans say to convince themselves that there is hope.

Everything you see is exactly my vision for this work; the grace of a life lived through the dirt of poverty. May God bless her.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Master of the House

Since I've only been painting for a short time, I'm still working on mastering my style. While not fully understanding all the techniques of painting, I do have this huge desire to create. At the same time, I'm reluctant to go to "art class" because so often the teacher unwittingly wants to impose his/her style on the student.

To compensate for this lack of knowledge, I devour art books and magazines. Especially in art magazines, the artist tells what size brush they use, what color paint, and sometimes even show works in progress. So, for instance, I read an article about some guy who used dioxazine violet for his shadows and cremnitz white in his highlights. Having never heard of either color, I went to Texas Art Supply, bought both, and started experimenting. At least four of my paintings have been influenced by that article and those colors.

Also recently I bought a book on brushwork essentials. About halfway through reading it, (looking at the pictures) I have noticed myself paint more carefully as a result. The goal is to be master over the painting, not let the painting be master over me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fair or Fowl

All things fowl started when my grandmother gave me a painting of three chicks that her mother (my great grandmother, Sallie McNair Heidelberg) had painted. The three little chicks are hovering around what looks like an oyster shell. Two chicks are pecking at the meat in the shell, and the other chick is looking up as a shaft of light permeates the background. Artistically, it forms a nice triangle, starting with the light source and traveling around the three chicks. Triangles make for good composition in paintings.

Then one day I brought home two kitschy vintage roosters from an estate sale. Then another, and another. Pretty soon I had a whole chicken village. The most unusual piece in this chicken collection was a rooster lamp with a black/white polka dotted lampshade. I say 'was' because this lamp recently met an untimely death.

Within the first few months of the start of my painting (2004), I copied my great grandmother's Three Chicks as a Christmas gift to my parents.

Ever since, though, I've wanted to paint roosters or chickens or something similar of my own, not a copy. Living in the city naturally thwarts opportunities to be associated with real chickens, unless they are roasted or fried--yum. But on a recent trip to Jamaica, there were chickens everywhere. Over breakfast the last morning of our trip, I noticed the perfect rooster. I couldn't help but notice him. He was sassy, cocky, fussy, busy, noisy, everything a rooster should be. He dared me to paint his portrait.

Friday, July 21, 2006


My friend just forwarded an article from the New York Times about a prisoner in California's Pelican Bay Prison who paints using the color leached from M&M's. It's quite fascinating. Click on the M&M's to read the artcle.

Fa cryin' out loud

In Houston there once was an artist
who really was trying her hardest
to paint with her heart
magnificent art
and tell stories that truly seemed smartest.

To paint with her heart she was trying
though some days she ended up crying
(it was more like a whine
that sniveling kind)
but when painting the brushes went flying.

She painted for five hours straight
with nary a small little break.
Then when she was through
time to make a meat stew
to nourish her family of eight.

Well, eight is a number that's false,
her husband and one little dog,
four daughters, it's true
but one's in Peru
there's also a gecko with spots.

"What's up," said her husband one morning,
"I'm writing a small little warning
of what happens when prose
gets stuck in one's toes
and the readers get lulled into groaning."

"The writing has gotten me stuck
every word that I write just sounds yuck
I'm going to bed
to clear out my head
upon waking to find better luck."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Art and Soul

Come on, take it. Take another little piece of my heart now baby....

So far it hasn't really hurt to let go of my paintings. But I've purposely not sold any lately because I'm preparing for this solo exhibit, and the gallery said that I need to have 50-ish works ready to show. It feels a little funny to ask for paintings back, so I just haven't sold any (on purpose). The good thing is that I will have enough works with which I am pleased to exhibit.

These paintings all have a little bit of my heart and soul in them. The more I live with them on my walls, the more accustomed I become to their presence. As my daughters are growing into adulthood and leaving the house, and I rejoice with them in their independence, I will also rejoice as these paintings join new collections. So come on take it....take another little piece of my heart now, baby, come on take it!

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Princess

My life is inextricably connected to these new artistic pursuits. I haven't figured out a way to turn off my brain at the end of a "work" day. Consequently, I think about art all the time.

This is a continuation of a pattern for me. As a new mom, I studied and completely devoted 100% of my time and effort to motherhood with the ultimate goal of raising mature, healthy, independent adults. My daughters are amazing human beings. I'm delighted to be part of their lives, what a priviledge. As a gardener, I sweated, toiled, labored and now my garden grows without much effort.

Ultimately, this is an art blog. As explained before, the purpose of this blog is to document the trials and triumphs of my artistic life. But that's just it. It's all my life. I contemplate all kinds of issues all the time that intertwine with almost everything I do artistically. And now that I'm writing a blog, I try to think of new ways to convey to my reading public something interesting about my tiny artistic life. What I'm trying to say is that I can't seperate being an artist from being a mom, being a gardener, being Reese's wife, and everything else that encompasses my life.

Tipping my daughter's hand, (which she might not appreciate) we watched The Princess Diaries recently. It's a charming story about a young lady who finds out that her father was a crown prince and therefore she is a princess. Heretofore, she has lived a life of invisibility. The conflict, of course, is she must decide whether or not to accept her responsibilities as a princess. Regardless, she can no longer ignore who she is by birth. She was born a princess. She "discovers" herself and eventually embraces her birthright.

Was I born an artist? Or will art be a phase like gardening? Motherhood is a phase that's nearly over for me.... will the art continue? Is there one identity, really, to which we were born? I know that The Princess Diaries is just a fairy tale, but is there a smidgen of truth to it? Did God create us for one thing? I mean, I've been a lot of things already. This art thing is new-ish, but it feels right. Is this the one thing for which I was created? Doesn't everyone want to find this super meaning to life and figure out why they are here?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Anna and the Toad

For a long time, I've been developing my artistic license. The two most notable examples of this are regarding my inventive cooking "skills" and my sometimes flamboyant story-telling. As my friend Stan says, "It's a true story....that's the way I heard it."

The newest expression of my artistic license is changing things in my paintings in order to tell a better story. This newest painting (that I worked on FOR-EV-ER) started with sweet young Anna hunting for Easter eggs. She was carrying a basket filled with plastic grass. It's from one of my favorite photos of all time. Anna is eager with anticipation at the start of the hunt. But instead of hunting for eggs in my rendition of the painting, I changed it to Anna showing off a toad she has caught. This was not unusual in the life of our daughters; they loved catching critters. To do this I had to completely change the grip of her fat little hand, and find a toad that matched my vision. In addition to that, I changed the color of her little dress to compliment her hair, and softened the shadows on her face.

Hopefully I captured the same sweet little girl and the look of delight and wonder on her face. That's what I really loved about the photo....not what she was doing (hunting eggs) but how well she was doing it (enjoying life.)